How to heat your house—not the outside.

Help the planet.
April 23 2007 1:30 PM

Warm Up

How to heat your house—not the outside.

What's the "Green Challenge"? Click here.

1_123125_2151565_2151577_2151578_2151882_tabs_01
1_123125_2151565_2151577_2151578_2151882_greentab_02
1_123125_2151565_2151577_2151578_2151882_tabs_03
1_123125_2151565_2151577_2151578_2151882_tabs_04
1_123125_2151565_2151577_2151578_2151882_tabs_05
1_123125_2151565_2151577_2151578_2151882_tabs_06
1_123125_2151565_2156585_2156586_2164345_graytabs_07
1_123125_2151565_2156585_2156586_2164345_blank

Click to launch the Week 2 Action Quiz

More than 20 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions in the United States come from energy use in homes. A major source of the problem is heating, and even though we're heading toward summer, heat is still an essential element in reducing your carbon load for the year. Some of us keep our homes warmer than we need to—if yours feels like an icebox in summer and a toaster in winter, you're probably in this group. In addition, most houses leak some hot air (and, in the summer, cool air) from every window, doorway, and air duct, which means that they're constantly wasting energy, and thereby upping CO 2 emissions. (Increasing your home's efficiency will help decrease CO 2 emissions generated by your air-conditioner, too, but since it runs on electricity, we'll address that in an upcoming segement.)

This is not a necessary evil. Solar and wind power, which both create largely emissions-free electricity, can be expensive, tricky, or impractical. Likewise the newfangled geothermal energy. But you can stick with regular old oil, gas, or electricity and still cut down on the amount of energy you use to heat your home. Weatherizing is an excellent place to begin. Along with shedding carbon pounds, it can save you hundreds of dollars each year. It will also help save cool air from escaping during summer months. There are relatively painless ways to address overheating as well. Some suggestions for getting started:

• According to the National Resources Defense Council, the gaps around the windows and doors in most houses let out the same amount of air, all told, as a 3-by-3-foot hole. You can find the leaks and then use caulking and weatherstripping to seal them off. (Here's a how-to guide.)

Slate Green Challenge with TreeHugger.

Meaghan O'Neill is a freelance writer and founding editor of treehugger.com, an eco-Web site and Slate's partner on the Green Challenge.

TODAY IN SLATE

Jurisprudence

Don’t Expect Adrian Peterson to Go to Prison

In much of America, beating your children is perfectly legal. 

Ken Burns on Why Teddy Roosevelt Would Never Get Elected in 2014

Cops Briefly Detain Django Unchained Actress Because They Thought She Was a Prostitute

Minimalist Cocktail Posters Make Mixing Drinks a Cinch

How the Apple Watch Will Annoy Us

A glowing screen attached to someone else’s wrist is shinier than all but the blingiest of jewels.

Books

Rainbow Parties and Sex Bracelets

Where teenage sex rumors come from—and why they’re bad for parents and kids.

Books

You Had to Be There

What we can learn from things that used to be funny.

Legendary Critic Greil Marcus Measures and Maps Rock History Through 10 Unlikely Songs

Catfish Creator Nev Schulman’s Book Is Just Like Him: Self-Deluded and Completely Infectious

Behold
Sept. 12 2014 5:54 PM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Sept. 14 2014 2:37 PM When Abuse Is Not Abuse Don’t expect Adrian Peterson to go to prison. In much of America, beating your kids is perfectly legal. 
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 12 2014 5:54 PM Olive Garden Has Been Committing a Culinary Crime Against Humanity
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 13 2014 8:38 AM “You’re More Than Just a Number” Goucher College goes transcript-free in admissions.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 12 2014 4:05 PM Life as an NFL Wife: “He's the Star. Keep Him Happy.”
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 12 2014 5:55 PM “Do You Know What Porn Is?” Conversations with Dahlia Lithwick’s 11-year-old son.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 14 2014 7:10 PM Watch Michael Winslow Perform Every Part of “Whole Lotta Love” With Just His Voice
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 12 2014 3:53 PM We Need to Pass Legislation on Artificial Intelligence Early and Often
  Health & Science
New Scientist
Sept. 14 2014 8:38 AM Scientific Misconduct Should Be a Crime It’s as bad as fraud or theft, only potentially more dangerous.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 12 2014 4:36 PM “There’s No Tolerance for That” Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh say they don’t abide domestic abuse. So why do the Seahawks and 49ers have a combined six players accused of violence against women?